Students become immersed in French culture while abroad

French professor Aileen Mootoo is taking students to Paris, France, where they will see landmarks like the Eiffel Tower during the study abroad trip. Courtesy of Aileen Mootoo

Several departments at the university have created study abroad programs providing students a chance to travel to different countries around the world each focusing on their own academic purpose. Some trips include traveling to Cuba for sociology, studying business in Panama or exploring London to learn about communication and theatre.

French professor Aileen Mootoo has organized a trip to Montpellier and Paris, France, in order to help students immerse themselves in French language and culture.

“The name of the program is called French Language and Culture,” said Mootoo. “There are two goals. One is a language goal, and the other one is a culture goal.”

While in France, students will take classes in the southern city of Montpellier, and then they will visit the famous city of Paris for three days. 

“The reason why I chose south of France versus us staying in Paris the whole time is because in Paris, you can really get by without speaking the language,” said Mootoo. “I chose the south because it’s a more relaxed environment so students can be fully immersed and begin to start thinking in the language.” 

After their classes in the mornings, the university students will be participating in an array of activities. On the itinerary, is a guided excursion to Arles, the city where the famous painter Vincent van Gogh lived.

“We’ll actually walk around in the little city where van Gogh spent a year,” said Mootoo. “He painted, and we’re expecting to go to the hospital where he cut his ear off. Even in the garden where he painted, we’re standing right there.”

Other activities may include a walking tour of Montpellier, a crepe party, a wine and cheese tasting event and a visit to a Mediterranean beach.

“The students will have some free time to explore the city of Montpellier,” said Mootoo. “Those are activities for the afternoon after class. They will be local. We’re scheduled to have half of a day where students will go on a bus. We’ll go to La Camargue, which is a protected nature area, and we visit there.” 

While in Paris, students will be able to visit several famous landmarks.

“We will be in Paris for three nights,” said Mootoo. “When we get to Paris, one of the things that is part of the program is going to the Musée d’Orsay, which is a former train station. Then, part of the plan is to do a boat tour. There’s a river that runs through Paris, and you can see a lot of the landmarks of Paris on this cruise. Then, the rest of the time I’m going to allow the students to do guided activities of their preference.”

Overall, Mootoo hopes that the students’ time in France will be eye-opening and impactful.

 “The goal is that they would have a life-changing experience on the language level and be culturally impacted somehow,” said Mootoo.